If the Philadelphia 76ers‘ double overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday dumped cold water on the team’s recent run, Wednesday night’s revenge-fueled shellacking stoked the playoff embers.
A game that saw the Sixers score 17 points before the Bulls got on the board was never close. The Sixers led by 20+ for much of the contest. The game was far out of hand that several players at the end of the bench got a decent run, including Furkan Korkmaz, Jaden Springer, and Montrezl Harrell.
After the game, Bulls star Zach LaVine praised the Sixers’ resilience after Monday’s loss, name-dropping Joel Embiid in the process.
“We knew they were going to come out strong like that,” LaVine said. “They did the right thing. They did a lot of adjustments. It was tough. Joel, give credit to him, we were set on getting the ball out of his hands, and he did it fast. And those guys made a lot of shots, 3s to open (the game) up.”
While the Sixers hardly needed Embiid late, the MVP frontrunner didn’t appear after halftime, raising concerns of an injury.
Sixers Provide Crucial Joel Embiid Injury Update
With Embiid noticeably absent late, fans across Philadelphia sat up a little straighter, especially as no updates on the big man trickled in until the fourth quarter.
“Very strange to have gone nearly an entire quarter and have no update on Joel Embiid, who didn’t come out with the team to start the 3rd quarter,” tweeted Sixers reporter Derek Bodner. “The Sixers are up 91-69 with 2:31 left in the 3rd, so they might not need him, but fans are understandably a bit on edge.”
After the game, Doc Rivers provided an update on Embiid’s status.
“Not much, not at all really,” Rivers said when asked if he was worried about the injury, via Philly Voice reporter Kyle Neubeck. “I think he’ll be ready for next game…whenever you hear calf you just say, that’s it. But not concerned.”
The “next game” is a big one. The Sixers continue their road trip West to take on the Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, and Denver Nuggets.
The Nuggets matchup has the potential to be an MVP-tilting contest. With Nikola Jokic and Embiid the favorites to take home the award, a big performance by one could go a long way toward securing the award.
Marcus Smart Not Worried About Sixers and Joel Embiid
Given the Sixers’ recent run — 14-4 since the All-Star Break — the team is now firmly cemented as a favorite in the East.
In fact, the Sixers might have supplanted the Celtics, who are the reigning conference champs. While Philly has trended upwards recently, the same can’t be said of Boston, who is just 5-5 over their last ten.
But Celtics guard Marcus Smart isn’t worried about seeing Philadelphia or Embiid in the playoffs.
“I’m taking Celtics every single day, and twice on Sundays,” former player Evan Turner said recently. “With this history, I think the Boston Celtics just have their number, besides the fact that I like the Celtics’ top eight better than the Sixers’ top eight. The way Embiid’s been playing this year, you have to take into consideration something occurring, but Jayson Tatum, he’s been through this a lot. The team has been playing hella defense. At the same time, Marcus Smart – if he has to shut down Embiid, maybe he can do it. He’s done it before”
The Celtics and Sixers will battle one more time during the regular season, in what could be a playoff-seed deciding matchup next week.